Nordic Tracking: Oya Festival, Day 2

August 18, 2010

Oslo is six hours ahead of New York, so aside from the rad feeling of being in the "future," it was very easy on the first night to blindly follow some new Australian buddies to a small basement club called Revolver. There, we saw Wild Nothing play to the fewest people I've ever been with in a packed room. Big co-sign to being able to stand right in front and only having to pass three or four people to get a water from the bar in the back of the club.

The only caveat of being in the future is that I was some kind of fumbling zombie when we went on the Oya International boat trip down a beautiful fjord the next morning. The houses on the islands are all governmental subsidies and where we were posted up was a communal space for the island's residents. The Oya International crew had us go on a scavenger hunt of sorts—essentially putting us through a litany of different music trivia games and a few physical activities. Then we had a lovely lunch, which was bountiful with all kinds of salads, meat and fish. I ate at a picnic table with a bunch of Norwegian metal bros and they told me about what kinds of foods I should be looking for and griped about the waning local culture—which was interesting to me because of the slow boom of butchers and emphasis on farmer's markets in New York. One told me that it used to be a requirement for farms to brew their own beer. It turned into a conversation about homebrewing—a hobby I have been working on taking up—and found me hanging out with the one of the owners of Propeller Recordings, Frithjof, who owns a brew pub in Oslo. He took some of us on a tour of the beer-making facilities and gave us a generous sampling of his wares.

We got back to the festival grounds just in time for LCD Soundsystem. The weather that day was so beautiful. Sun shining high, but no humidity, perfect for lounging out in the grass. Even though I was watching far away from the main stage, LCD is the kind of band whose energy translates so well live that I imagine seeing them in a stadium from the nosebleeds, you would still feel like you were right up front. Their set overlapped with Yeasayer's, so I broke a little bit early to check them out.

Holy. Shit. Oslo loves Yeasayer. The crowd was screaming and flailing, it seemed almost spiritual for some people. A few songs in, Chris Keating said, "This is our seventh time in Norway. We've only been to LA three times." The reaction was akin to something I imagine happens when Justin Bieber tells an audience of tweens that he loves them. It was the first time at the festival that I was bewildered by the crowd's intensity and I ended up sneaking back to the main stage to see the end of LCD's set and secure a good spot for that night's closer, Pavement.

For the sake of full disclosure, I am one of those Pavement Changed My Life nerds. But since I was a little bit late to the party, they broke up a few months after I fell in love with Wowee Zowee. Stephen Malkmus promised that it was only a ten year hiatus and I admittedly paid attention to the timeline and was extremely relieved and surprised when they announced their reunion. When they took the stage, Malkmus said, "We're Pavement from the '90s" and then they broke into "Summer Babe" to a major crowd eruption. Mike Watt came out and accompanied them on the tambourine. Their energy through the whole set was the kind I usually only find from a band performing their most recent material, but they made "Gold Soundz" and "Range Life" sound brand new that a lyric like Stone Temple Pilots are elegant bachelors/they're foxy to me, are they foxy to you? not feel dated at all.

Nordic Tracking: Oya Festival, Day 2